Emily Boynton, stepmother to the three Boynton children -- Lennox, Raymond and Carol -- and mother to Ginevra, blackmails the family lawyer, Jefferson Cope, into destroying a second will of her late husband that would have freed the children from her dominating influence. She takes herself, the children and her daughter-in-law Nadine on holiday to Europe and the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, the great detective Hercule Poirot meets up with a woman friend, Dr. Sarah King, who falls in love with Raymond Boynton to Emily's disapproval. Lady Westholme, her secretary Miss Quinton and lawyer Cope are following them too. The children discover the second will and Emily succeeds in rubbing the rest the wrong way, causing much hatred towards her. At a dig, Emily is found dead. Poirot investigates.